Undefeated Norwalk knocks off Staples
Norwalk is known for its offensive prowess and it has come up with some great regular seasons of late.
Now, the Bears are bringing the defense and it might spell a championship.
Norwalk (7-0) shut out its third straight opponent and fifth of the season in a 2-0 victory over perennial FCIAC-power Staples. Goalie Svet Kozak only needed to make three saves in the clean sheet, a credit to the solid back four of Norwalk.
“These four guys back there are the best I’ve had in my six years coaching,” Norwalk coach Chris Laughton said. “They’ve taken pride in shutting teams out and they know their role, I hope it’s the difference in winning a title this year.”
Norwalk’s big offense had some chances in the first half but finally broke through in the 67th minute. Left back Jose Canahui advanced the ball up the left wing and drove a low cross into the middle of the box and found a streaking Michal Nowicki for the game’s first goal. Just six minutes later, Norwalk was on the board again. A failed clearance found Nacho Navarro’s feet, and his feet found the back of the net to ice the victory.
“Once our offense gets going, it’s pretty tough, obviously,” Laughton said. “I think it was a testament to the kids that they stayed composed and knew a goal would come.”
Prior to the second goal, Staples had one of its few chances of the game. A foul near right side of the 18-yard box gave the Wreckers a dangerous free kick. The shot from Harry Birch hit the wall and Kozak leaped for his toughest save of the night.
“Most of us on defense are three-year starters,” Kozak said. “We’ve played together for a long time and its starting to show because we’re getting shut outs.”
Norwalk has 21 goals on the season now, so the offense is still incredible, but the focus on defense and how dynamic it can be has been the difference this year especially with players like Canahui.
“The fact that we have guys who can defend and come up and aid the attack is huge,” Laughton said. “Jose is probably a midfielder or forward at other schools, but he fits in best for us at left back and it shows how he can help us on offense. That’s the idea there.”
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